Jennifer Connell, of New York City, has lost a case but appears to have won the distinction of being the worst aunt alive. Connell, 54, sued her 8-year-old nephew Sean Tarala for $127,000 for jumping into her arms at a party. The act caused her to fall and break her wrist. It is the type of thing that happens in families but Connell sued her nephew in torts. A six-member Connecticut jury unanimously rejected the claim in just 25 minutes — barely enough time to get to the jury room, take their seats, and vote down the case.
The complaint alleged that “The injuries, losses and harms to the plaintiff were caused by the negligence and carelessness of the minor defendant in that a reasonable eight-year-old under those circumstances would know or should have known that a forceful greeting such as the one delivered by the defendant to the plaintiff could cause the harms and losses suffered by the plaintiff.”
The lawsuit is reminiscent of the case of Garratt v. Dailey, 49 Wn.2d 499, 304 P.2d 681 (Wash. 1956) where Brian Dailey, 5, injured Naomi Garrett at her sister Ruth’s home when he pulled out a chair in a prank as Garrett was about to sit down. The court found for Garrett. Dailey did not intend to hurt Garrett but was substantially certain of that she would be injury as result of her actions.
In this case, it is not clear that Sean could be viewed as satisfying even the substantial certainty standard.
Connell insisted that she loves Sean and described him as a “very loving, sensitive” boy but still wanted him declared guilty and hit with a huge damage award.
Connell is a human resources manager and said that she was taken by surprise by her loving nephew: “All of a sudden he was there in the air, I had to catch him and we tumbled onto the ground . . . I remember him shouting, ‘Auntie Jen, I love you!’ and there he was, flying at me.” She described the horror of the aftermath of the accident and that recently she was at a party and “it was difficult to hold my hors d’oeuvres plate.”
I cannot imagine why the jury was not enraged at the thought of it.